Kashmir Floods: The scenes of ruin at my home still haunt me

It has been 24 days since I left my home in Srinagar to escape the devastating floods that destroyed the heart of the Kashmir valley.

I was half-asleep when we had to flee for survival that morning three weeks ago. I ran empty-handed from my home, amid the gushing waters. I thought it would be just a day before I would be able to go back to my room. I thought I would be able to come back and organise the books lying scattered on the shelf above my bed; the clothes hanging on the back of my room door, my jewelery and everything that belonged to me in my home.

It feels like decades since then.

It has been almost a month and every day the urge to return surges inside me. I miss my home every second, every moment.

I was always a homebody. But for the floods, I would have had no excuse leave. I wanted to go there and kiss every wall and every room. I wanted to tell my home its value, something I had hardly thought about earlier.

But after the floods, when I visited my home for the first time, all the love and longing was gone. I was broken, just like my home. It wasn’t my home anymore. The walls had lost their colour. I couldn’t find any of the things that had remained etched in my memory after I’d left.

The things that made it home for me were all washed away in the floods. Now there was only a void in the gloom; our voices echoed and everything smelled dead.

In my room, my childhood photographs and the hard-earned bylines that I had collected during my journalism internships were nowhere to be found. A framed collage of my stories had fallen from the wall and lay broken on the floor, the glass shattered, mud staining the paper.

My books had been ruined by the mud. I could recognize the name of only one book – Beloved by Toni Morrison – which had been given to me as a gift a year ago.

The scenes of ruin at my home still haunt me. I tried to look for my dresses in the filth but I could hardly find anything in the muck. It was all gone and there is just a memory left now.

Riffat Mohidin bio picRiffat Mohidin is a journalist with Indian Express, based in Srinagar.

– Featured image via Sheikh Farooq

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